‘Today’s announcement that Australia is adopting a zero extinction target as part of its Threatened Species Action Plan is very welcome news,’ said Invasive Species Council conservation director James Trezise.
‘Australia has led the world when it comes to mammal extinctions and is fourth globally for the extinction of all animals. The zero extinction goal is an important acknowledgement of the challenge we face.
‘The majority of our mammal extinctions have been driven by feral cats, which kill an estimated 1.5 billion native animals every year. Concerted action and investment in new technologies to tackle feral cat populations, as outlined in the plan, is vital.
‘The strong focus on places with high biodiversity values that also face high risks from threats is welcomed, such as wolf snakes on Christmas Island and hard-hoofed feral animals in the Australian alps.
‘We also welcome the inclusion of 6 offshore islands as priority places. Australia’s islands are highly susceptible to extinction events and they are also incredible candidates for restoration.
‘All of the recorded animal extinctions that have occurred in Australia since 2009 have been on our islands, and the dominant cause in all but one of these extinctions has been invasive species.
‘Australia needs an island threat abatement and restoration program and this plan sets out the foundation for that work. Once islands are free from feral animals, they can be used as safe havens for animals and plants to recover in numbers without predation.
‘The national audit office released a scathing report on the management of threatened species earlier this year. This strategy goes part of the way to addressing some of those findings, but reforming our national environmental laws is needed if we are to fix the system for the protection and recovery of our threatened species.
‘Australia has almost 2000 nationally listed threatened species and ecological communities, this strategy focuses on a subset of those. There is a risk that species not on a priority list slip through the safety net.
‘To stop that list from growing and prevent extinctions we need to tackle major threats to nature, which include invasive species, habitat destruction and climate change. This requires investing significantly in threat abatement strategies and reforming our national environment law to make the conservation planning system more effective and efficient.
‘Whilst zero extinctions is an incredibly important goal, the key test will be whether the decisions, reforms and funding commitments that are made by the government will get us there,’ he said.